Inside the Numbers: Breaking down the X’s and O’s with Bennett, Coach K

UVA-DukeTony Bennett started Jay Huff alongside Mamadi Diakite in the frontcourt. Mike Krzyzewski countered with Matthew Hurt, who had been coming off the bench since a subpar night in a loss at N.C. State last week.

The thinking being: when UVA would use its post-to-post double on freshman phenom Vernon Carey, Hurt, a 40.4 percent shooter from deep, would be there to take advantage of the open looks.

Didn’t work out that way for Coach K. Hurt was, charitably, ineffective, not scoring, not recording a rebound, an assist, anything of consequence – well, the scorebook said he had one steal – in nine otherwise entirely forgettable minutes.

Carey still put up nice numbers – 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, three blocks, in 28 minutes, but notably, he didn’t register an assist, which is saying something, for a guy who was constantly spinning the ball out of double teams.

“Yeah. Coach just said, especially for the double team, when the second big man came to me, he just told the perimeter to be ready to shoot the ball, so that was the whole plan,” Carey said afterward.

They weren’t ready, as it turned out.

Duke shot just 4-of-17 from three-point range. Two of those were assisted – and one of those was a make by Carey, Duke’s first bucket, 2:31 into the game.

Duke, as a team, had four assists as a team.

You read that right. Four.

The ball was moving a lot.

What Duke ended up getting in terms of made baskets ultimately came from one-on-one play, which, you’ll live with that.

“He’s such an excellent player, and well-schooled, and he’s hard to handle,” Bennett said of Carey. “I’ll watch the tape, but I thought we did a really good job. There were a few times maybe we weren’t perfect, but overall, I thought we defended the way we had to in the interior.”

Bottom line, on this one, Advantage: Virginia.

Next one is a clear Advantage: Duke.

Krzyzewski clearly made it a priority to keep the ball out of Kihei Clark’s hands as much as possible, pressing Virginia in the backcourt, with his point guard, Tre Jones, denying Clark in the backcourt, and then in the frontcourt.

The result of that was to force Braxton Key, a 6’8” guard with a balky left wrist, that became balkier with after a hard foul on a drive to the hoop in the game’s opening minutes, into initiating the offense for Virginia on multiple possessions.

Key had solid counting numbers overall – 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, eight rebounds – but he also had six turnovers.

“I didn’t do a great job at it. I had six turnovers, so I have to watch film and correct it,” Key said afterward. “They did a great job pressuring me a little bit, forcing me left a little bit, so I just have to watch film and get better. I thought that we did a great job at trying to get offense, run our sets and get Kihei the ball when we could and play from there.”

Clark’s night wasn’t as rough as the first glance at the numbers would suggest.

Jones had 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting and two assists, both which resulted in twos, so, he was responsible for 21 points.

Clark had seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and five assists – which led to 10 points. So, responsible for 17 points.

Clark also had four turnovers, but none of those led to Duke buckets.

Jones: zero turnovers, obviously not resulting in Virginia hoops.

Still, Advantage: Duke, and even if it didn’t result in a huge Advantage: Duke in the bottom line, keeping the ball out of Clark’s hands made Virginia that much less efficient offensively.

“I thought it helped us. I thought our game plan defensively was good,” Krzyzewski said. “It forced a lot of their guys to be ball-handlers. We weren’t thinking that we were going to be able to take it away from anybody, but it meant that they couldn’t run their offense with as much time on the clock, and it put the ball in not the decision maker’s hands.”

Story by Chris Graham

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